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April 04, 2010


"How fast can a three-legged dog run?", I asked the day after I brought Danaher (formerly "Cassie") home to Helena from Rolling Dog Ranch in March, 2003. I had taken her across the street to the Capitol grounds for a walk in the snow and had run into a friend who was also walking her dog. It's a big area so we decided to let the dogs off-leash to romp in the snow and get to know one another. I wasn't too concerned about letting Dani off-leash because, after all, how fast can a three-legged dog run? Turns out, as fast as she wants. Dani took off. She had not yet bonded with me and this was an exciting taste of freedom. My friend and I ran opposite directions around the Capitol and finally corralled her as she stopped to sniff something a deer had left behind.

I learned my lesson that day. It's the same message Steve and Alayne will take with them to New Hampshire: disabled animals are not to be underestimated; they are not throw-aways and they don't need/can't use our pity. Like any of us or any "abled" animal, they just need care, kindness, respect, and a chance. As much as the Sanctuary is a haven for the lucky animals who find their way there, it is also immeasurably valuable as a live demonstration of this message.

Dani went on to become a therapy dog, forging an instant connection with nursing home residents who were blind, wheel chair-bound, and suffering from dementia, amputations, and dozens of other debilitating afflictions. Not a throw-away among them.

I am very grateful to Steve and Alayne for bringing Dani and me together and for letting Montana borrow the Sanctuary and its good works (and good press!) for a time. If all of you out East who want to visit and volunteer and work with Rolling Dog join us here in Montana and points beyond in spreading the gospel to friends, neighbors, families, acquaintances, think of the impact we can all make, one Dani at a time!

I've been away for a few days and at first thought this was an April Fools joke, but realized soon after you guys were serious! How wonderful for you! I, too, had been wondering about the frigid winters and the toll it takes on you guys. It sounds like a wonderful property and I'm so excited as maybe now we can come visit with it being so much closer to us! Congratulations!

I'm so happy for you guys! This is going to be an exciting time in your lives!

To Heather Montana and Timmy the Wonder Dog---Yes, RDR made Montana a very special place! All the people on the East Coast are cheering and all the people on the West Coast are crying! (both tears of sadness and joy) I love what you wrote!!

Absolutely fabulous! Divine intervention at work here. You all are going to be so happy and will soon bring unbridled joy and renewed hope to those whose paths you are about to cross. Lab & Dachshund karma. :)

Wow! What a beautiful place for you and the animals! You are smart to start planning for the future now. It will be nice that you don't have to drive so far and no more worries about a fire season!

Congratulations! A lovely place and very sound reasons for the move. I think it will work out beautifully for you.

Bittersweet all around and I am sure for you both and all the wonderful people you have befriended in MT. too. You put Montana on the map for a great cause. The town of Lancaster has no idea what is coming their way.

ALL that green grass. WOW. Doggies aren't going to know what to do, that is until they start digging it up :)

BUT most of all I am thrilled that you two will also be able to go to dinner and movie together in the evening and know the kids are safe at home only 3 miles away -- ha ha.

GREAT for you.

Wow, I was off the blog for a few days & so much exciting news. I am thrilled for you all that you are able to do this so fast & seem to have it so well planned out. I also think it is so smart to do this while you are able to physically make such a big move. The place is beautiful & I'm so happy that the dogs will be part of your home now & make it so much easier to let them in & out to do their business outside. The property just looks gorgeous. Congratulations to all of you & can't wait for the first pic of Bailey under the tree!!! Glad to hear the kitties are getting a pretty cool place to live too!!!

I am happy for ALL of you. Oregon is cold enough with our 25 horses, cats, and dogs to care for. I could not understand how you managed in Montana freezes! I am your age and truly admire the plans you have set up for these dear furbabies! Longer grazing seasons, tax advantages, your own hay, and inside home for the dogs...truly remarkable planning! Best of all wishes as you all transition to your new home!!!

As sad as I am to see you all go, I am also so ecstatic to see such support and understanding from everyone, YEA!!! Love you all for that and so do all the furbabies! I am trying to convince my husband we need a change in our lives and need to move to NH (Lancaster, NH, in particular, ha ha). He gave me a 'hmm' look, so maybe!? The daughter is now 18 and I think my work is now done here in Montana ;)

After my brief conversation with Steve, I was feeling sad about our loss here in Montana to the state of New Hampshire. Then I looked at all the photos and I am so happy for all of you. As I told Steve, I want to continue with the annual raffle quilt so that I can help in a small way with support for your furry family. This year's quilt is under construction and will be our way of saying "Happy Tails To You (all)".

Barbara, Scott and Barcley
Seeley Lake, MT

I'm so excited for you! The new homestead in New Hampshire looks fabulous! And I'm even MORE excited because we live in Southern New Hampshire (near Manchester). Maybe we'll come up for a volunteer visit when you're settled!


What a beauuuutiful place! And on top of that your reasoning is dead on from all standpoints.
Good luck, safe traveling, and happy days!

PS You're nearer to TN now, so we ban holiday/visit!

What a wonderful place this looks like... I feel bad for all those that are close to you in Montana as it will be like losing a friend. But I am happier because it will be easier for me to visit. I'm sure the animals will be extremely happy with their new digs... best of luck with the move and the transition.

I'm absolutely all for it! It looks LOVELY and all of your reasons are prefectly logical. My only regret is that I've been trying to plan a trip to Montana to visit, which is much closer to me than New Hampshire. But, now you're my reason for going to New Hampshire!!!!

Congratulations and best of luck. I've always wondered how you would manage in MT over the years. I think you'll love the new place in NH.

dear steve, alayne and fur kids,

congrats on your new home! Please let those of us who would like to help you with the move know how we can best help -i.e. donations, a hefty supply of doggie cookies and toys for the new place,a gift basket from your favorite goodie place, etc.

much love,
randi, mo and parker

Wow! What a huge undertaking - I am so excited for you. The new place is gorgeous and I know it will be a wonderful place for all of you. Praying that everything goes smoothly and that the ranch in Montana sells soon. Big hugs!

Congratulations!! As a resident of Washington state, I feel as though I'm losing a great neighbor and I had hoped to visit the ranch someday--but I think you have made a very intelligent, informed decision. I'm feeling a little bewildered and disoriented that you will soon be located across the country, but I will certainly continue to support you wherever you are!! Good luck to you both and to all the wonderful animals. Your new home is BEAUTIFUL!!!


Wow 106 comments so far. Obviously Rolling Dog Ranch's blog is very popular. And why not! You both do such a wonderful job.
One shouldn't be surprised that you are making a radical move, considering the fact that you both left your careers and home behind in Seattle to move to a ranch in rural MT to start a nonprofit for disabled animals. Whew!! What all you have accomplished since then.
Once again you are thinking outside of the box.
I will miss the fact that you are but 8 hours east of my home. I love MT but ......while the winters are beautiful they are harsh. Harsh on humans and harsh on animals.
I know that you and your lovely crew of animals will be embraced by your new community.
Have a safe journey. Best of luck in selling your place in MT.


That place is beautiful!!! Congratulations and good luck with the move!

Looks like a really great place! Congratulations! I may be able to help out or visit now, since I live in Boston.
Best of luck during the moving process!

I echo everyone's sentiments and know NH will be perfect for you and your future plans. I'm in my 60s and can relate in a small way to some of the problems you've outlined. I'm on the east coast, so maybe my dream of visiting RDR might become a reality now! Keeping Alayne and you and your lucky charges in my prayers. -m.j.

VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!!!!! So we can help RDR to have a safe and speedy move to their beautiful new home!!!!! Wish we could do more for you....let us know!

You guys inspire sooooo many people!

Oh What a beautiful place and so happy for you. But it really made me homesick for PA and the upper east coast. Living in NE now where it lacks the trees and mountains and the wildlife we had living on our 10 acres of woods.
I had hoped to come up to MT this summer but maybe will be able to visit in NH. Congratulations. And best wishes with the move.
Sounds like a wonderful plan and will be anxious to hear the updates. Take care.

WOW!!Congratulations... My son was stationed there. I am so excited I will get to go to the ranch now. Since I found you I have wanted to go now I can.......

I was in the USA for a week on business and missed a couple of posts--the world has shifted! Good for you both--living in the prairies I know what those winter temperatures feel like and how it's hard to get going some mornings when it just seems too cold to go out. (Also in my late 50's) I'm so happy to see your wonderful new home and I envy the dogs all those beautiful hardwood floors! I've always wanted to visit New Hampshire--I hope that you will be able to offer a few tour days in the summers so that we RDR devotees can visit and express our thanks in person.
Mojo the blind senior poodle continues his new life in Winnipeg and survived his first prairie winter fairly well. There were a few days when he seemed stunned by the cold after emigrating from the Seattle area. I'm so happy for you both and relieved that you will be taking care of yourselves. Montana was beautiful but those long drives in poor weather worried me a lot, hearing about Steve taking animals to the vet while Alayne kept things going at home. Congratulations!

That is a really nice place. I think you are doing the right thing for sure

Nnnnnnoooooooooo!!! My heart is breaking. I'm sobbing....

Part of my love of being in Montana has been knowing you made this State a better place. You and Alayne are simply the best. Montana is losing the best. The people and volunteers are losing the best. It is crushing.

Do I understand? Yes. Do I wish you the absolute infinite best? Always. That State has no idea how lucky it is. The animals and volunteers in the area have no idea how much their lives are about to be enriched and changed forever- as you have touched and changed mine (and so many others) in the time I spent with you as well as followed and supported all that you do. You don't just help animals. You open and heal people's hearts and minds too.

I love you both. I will miss you HORRIBLY.
I support you ALWAYS.
Heather Montana (and Timmy the Wonder Dog).

This place is so gorgeous. I love it and I am sure the furbabies will also. The better weather will be such a blessing and you are so smart to think that far ahead. I often wondered how you would manage all that work when you go older. I know you will still have a lot of work but it seems like it will be much better now. All of you are so lucky. I am jealous. Congrats.

Bless you, kids, I have been thinking about your future as well - you are doing great!! Beautiful new home for the rescue and at such a fabulous price. The moving and setting up will be gruelling for you, but so worthwhile. Well done.

Congratulations to both of you and also to all of the animals!!! We can't even begin to tell you how happy we are for each and every one of you!!! We'll be waiting to get your new snail mail address.

We just found two rv parks in Lancaster so hopefully we'll see you there:-)

Wow! What a surprise and what a beautiful spot! I love the big tree out front and especially the view of the pond and beyond. My first thought was how sad the blind animals won't be able to see it, but then I felt - they will be able to FEEL the peace and beauty surrounding them. I'm impressed with how well thought out your plan is and with the look to the future - both for yourselves and the shelter. I'm from the Seattle area (grew up in Edmonds, now live in Marysville) and have really telling friends about you two and your story. I've learned so much about special needs animals from your stories - our neighbors adopted a beagle with one eye and he is a HAPPY guy! My teenage daughters and I have volunteered at our local equine rescue - when we started there was a blind appaloosa and they have had horses with one eye also. We have 8 indoor cats rescued from our own backyard (left by a feral momma), all bottlefed and healthy to date - they showed up a few months after my husband of 27 yrs left 6 yrs ago and have given us the gift of laughter and love ,helping us find our way through divorce and beyond. We'll look forward to keeping up with the huge process of moving on...I really enjoy your stories and photos - our thoughts and prayers are with you all!

Wow!!! I've been out of the country for a week and thought I would check the RDR blog before heading to bed. This is wonderful news for you all. I must admit I feel a bit sad, I had grown very attached to Ovando. However, visiting RDR has been my dream for many years and now it may well become a reality!

All the very best to you both.

WOW!!!! Congratulations...the new place is awesome....I love that the dogs will be "in the House" with you and Alayne. I am also sad because now you two and all those very special animals will be clear on the other side of this great country. I was thinking that maybe I could come and visit this summer (visiting RDR is on my bucket list, actually right at the top, so perhaps another year. I'll be praying for a speedy,safe and well organized move for everyone. God Bless you for all you do,you two are such very special people...God Speed!!!

Congratulations! We are so excited that you will be here on the East Coast. Absolutely fantastic! Good luck with the move, safe travels,and welcome, welcome, welcome!


What a GREAT new ADVENTURE for all of you. You share so much with all of us,and make us feel like part of your family!Best of luck to all of you in the weeks ahead,the place looks so beautiful,will you keep the same name? For all of you this looks like a heaven on earth place, and you are doing it at a perfect time in your life so you will get to enjoy it.I admire all you have done and continue to do, you animal are so lucy to have you!Bless you in your travels.

Woweee Wow! Congratulations on some really happy news for you all! What an undertaking! The new place is spectacular. Best wishes for a smooth transition.

WOW! Congrats! I have family in Vermont, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, looks like a stop by your place will be in my future travels!!

Good luck to allon your cross country adventure!

Well! I'll echo Leila, just a bit: I was also feeling a little sad, even though we're way south in Arizona, but...New Hampshire is much farther away! But who knows? Maybe we can combine a trip to visit you, one of these days, with a trip to visit grandkids in Maine!

I did fall in love with the new place, from the pictures. We see so little green, around here, that we practically salivate over pic's like those! And to have all the dogs actually in the house with you will be priceless, I know. You're so smart to do this, now, instead of waiting until you are in your 60's or 70's. I've sometimes wondered how you would ever find someone to take over for you, when you need to retire.

So we wish you guys the very best! I do hope someone who lives closer and has the time will be able to help you with driving between Ovando and NH; it just seems like a good thing to have two drivers, but maybe that's just me.

We'll still keep following you and the animals through the blog, and if the economy ever turns around enough, we will resume contributing. As the Laconians said, "IF."

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who is slightly saddened by this news. I was very happy to tell all my friends that the coolest animal sanctuary was in Montana. We will miss you, but NH seems to be an excellent choice- it's a beautiful house!

Wow. Just Wow. What a busy spring you have ahead of you. Looking forward to the blog posts as you make discoveries about your new home. I'm glad you're thinking of the future as well.
I have to say, I was surpised that the land in MT would be so much higher than a more crowded N.H. (!)

What was this place before? a personal home?

Also, I bet you are sad to leave your wonderful vets behind, and they will be sad to lose you too. Your animals have gotten such amazing care over the years. Kudos to them.

Hang in there during these crazy few months. We'll all be out here thinking of you guys!

Vote! Everyone, keep voting!!!

Very cool - welcome to my home state! Funny, someone just sent me this NH video link:

Wow, I'm in shock! So amazingly happy for you and Alayne and all the animals, but as many have already said, for some unexplainable reason I'm sad at the same will be clear on the other side of the country! We had hoped to come visit the ranch this summer, but don't guess we'll be able to do that now that you're moving. Know that we plan to continue our support of you, in friendship, prayers, and financially, no matter where you go. You are always in our hearts. We will be praying for a smooth and non-problematic move and an easy adjustment time for everyone. Looks like a beautiful place and we are glad that things will be a bit easier for you now. Congrats!

What amazing news!!! I'm so excited!!


Jean Leinhauser

I will be in BEAUTIFUL New Hampshire and Vermont in mid-July so I am hoping I can maybe stop by and see you! You will love it there. I always wanted to come visit the ranch but Ovando seemed way to remote of a possibility.

I am very excited for all of you...human and fur-baby too!

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